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Design & Style

Generating Ideas

Frank Gehry

Lesson time 14:37 min

Sometimes the best ideas begin as the craziest ideas. Frank shares a few of his tips for exploring the crazy ideas, and where to begin again if you're feeling stuck.

Frank Gehry
Teaches Design and Architecture
In 17 lessons, Frank teaches his unconventional philosophy on architecture, design, and art.


From jazz, the greatest thing I've heard anybody say is Wayne Shorter who said, you can't rehearse what you ain't invented yet. And it's so true because the creative process is when you're doing a building, you're trying to pull it out of somewhere. And it's like jazz, you respond, and you work intuitively to create something. And it evolves. And often it just starts to appear, like you don't know where it's coming from. And you go with it, you trust it, you leave-- you don't leave it. You don't over think it. You just go with it, and it takes you somewhere. It's a great experience when you're finished you look at it, you say, where the hell did that come from? How did I get that? God damn it, that's so great, you know? Don't tell anybody I didn't know what I was doing. We had a physics teacher, Joe Noble was his name, in the 11th grade. We would stay after school he, would stay after school, and we would sit and talk about all these kind of things. And he egged us on. We used to fantasize some crazy things, like if you have-- this is crazy, OK? So if you have two trains coming on the track, they're equal size, and they hit each other. What happens? They stop dead, right? So now you have the same one train, and then you have half a train and you hit it, so then this gets pushed that way a little bit. And so as this train gets smaller, and smaller, this train pushes it further, and further. But, they always stop it. So then we wondered if a fly could stop the train taking that logic. Well, we spent months thinking about that. People still remind me and make fun of me from that period. Obviously, a fly can't stop a train. But, we really believed it could back then. I think that's important, just to take the risk of doing something even though you know, oh come on, you're never going to stop-- a fly isn't going to stop a train. But, let's see how big a thing has to be to stop the train. Where is the line? And then, what can you do with that information? So there are similarities when you project images. Like now we're doing a house with a brick facade. The brick doesn't hit the ground, it's in suspension. That's stupid to do that because a brick is heavy, you shouldn't do that. So we were going to kill it, we weren't going to do it. And then, I couldn't get it out of my mind, I couldn't stop. So now the house is being designed, and the client loves it so far. And, it's working, we're making it work. Create the logic for it as you go, and it's like doing something with brick that hasn't been done, I don't think. Why do it, though? Why would you do that. Why pursue it? Why? Because it goes back to this background for humanity. It's background for living. It's-- It's a different kind of expression and it gives a different stage set, if you will. And, brick ...

About the Instructor

At 19 years old, Frank Gehry was a truck driver taking sculpture classes at night school. His vision for what architecture could accomplish went on to reshape our cities’ skylines and the imaginations of artists and designers around the world. In his online architecture class, this master builder invites you into his never-before-seen model archive for a look into his creative process.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

really helped to show how passionate someone can be and gives motivation to find a passion of my own.

Great instructor with a great story! You can learn a lot from him!

I liked the overall storytelling, his approach to architecture and life. His story and words will continue having a influence in my life.

I have taken away some key points regarding how to be a leader in a field. Listen to the customer! Find your Voice! Be Curious! Work hard!


A fellow student

What comes to the fore is the mans humanity, if he had remained a truck driver or worked in ceramics that would still come through. Luckily for us his path was to leave us with a portfolio of buildings comparable in strength and effect as the statue of the Charioteer.


I love the idea of considering your neighbours in how and what you create; that saying yes to a project that is daunting because of client expectations is also exciting and stimulating and challenging. But mostly I love the design from within aspects and that drawing by hand is fundamental.

Tom W.

I appreciate the honesty and humility Frank Gehry expresses about the fear and uncertainty that is a part of creating. I'm coming to accept that fear is a natural part of the process, and I need to just push on, do my work and edit the good from the poor. I need not be dismayed if I don't hit a home run every time I swing my bat/pencil.

Gloria Fernanda G.

I'm so thrilled with this amazing opportunity of being able to hear this super architect and vissionaire . I have to confess that I'm so moved with every single session.

Luke P.

the creative block piece made so much sense to me. You have to just keep trying everything

Edgardo R.

Exploring crazy ideas this is just fenomenal, in that universe the impossible is convert in makeable.

Jerry T.

I love his thoughts on creative block. Never looked at in that sense. It is actually quite liberating

Jana V.

I truly enjoyed this lesson. I am learning so much. What a privilege it is to hear him speak.

Jana V.

Frank Gehry is incredibly inspirational and has come into my life at the most opportune time. I love what he has to say about intuitive design and that he does not know where it comes from. I feel the same. I believe my ideas are not from me, and that I also have to trust myself intuitively to let the process happen. I am so thankful for his generosity in sharing this amazing gift. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you!

A fellow student

Just wanted to write an appreciation post for his beautiful chair that he sits on during his lessons.